nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

How France multiplies hazardous nuclear waste.

Reporterre 11th Dec 2018  Claiming to ” recycle ” used nuclear fuel, the reprocessing industry complicates the management of waste by increasing the amount of plutonium and hazardous materials.
Most countries engaged in this dead-end way come out … but not France.
According to the official communication, the reprocessing does not generate
contamination, only ” authorized discharges ” . They are spit by the
chimneys, dumped at the end of a pipe buried in the Channel.
In reality, according to the independent expert Mycle Schneider, ” the plant is
authorized to reject 20,000 times more radioactive rare gases and more than
500 times the amount of liquid tritium that only one of the Flamanville
reactors located 15 km away. ” . It contributes ” almost half to the
radiological impact of all civilian nuclear installations in Europe ” .
https://reporterre.net/Comment-la-France-multiplie-les-dechets-nucleaires-dangereux

Advertisements

December 13, 2018 Posted by | France, Reference, reprocessing, wastes | Leave a comment

Molten salt nuclear reactors not commercially viable, but useful for military

the decision to pursue Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors (MSRs )may not be based on market laws. For MSRs to succeed, they will likely be developed with appropriate political support and military funding.

If a nation wants an unlimited power supply for cutting-edge military technologies, then the MSR is indeed a very good candidate.

small modular reactors fitted with MSR technology could effectively supply electricity at remote military bases.

When a technology has some potential, the military sector can provide appropriate funding to quickly prototype products, which won’t necessarily have commercially viable features

Molten Salt Reactors: Military Applications Behind the Energy Promises, POWER,12/02/2018 | Jean-Baptiste Peu-Duvallon The commercial nuclear power sector has evolved with great help from the military-industrial complex. Research and development funded for the purpose of national defense has resulted in advances directly applicable to the power industry. For molten salt reactor designs to succeed, political support and military dollars may again be necessary.

Observers of the energy sector have likely noticed a growing interest worldwide in small modular molten salt reactor (MSR) concepts. North American companies such as Terrestrial Energy, Southern Company, and TerraPower are working to industrialize designs (Figure 1), while the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics recently received $3.3 billion from the Chinese central government to build an MSR complex in the Gobi Desert.

……… under the leadership of its director Alvin M. Weinberg, the Oak Ridge Laboratory pursued the concept for civilian applications with the construction of a 7.4-MWth MSR, which operated for five years before being permanently shutdown in 1969.  The reason testing was stopped was mainly political, as the MSR experiment in Oak Ridge wasn’t providing enough workload to other laboratories, while at the same time research on fast-breeding reactors was ramping up, requiring the engagement of more and more resources .

It was not only political, however. While the MSR concept is quite simple on paper, its industrialization is quite complex. Because the coolant is a mixture of chemicals rather than water, it provokes the release of significant quantities of tritium, which must be removed continuously. It generates other issues too, such as speedy corrosion of standard alloys, and also core lifetime issues when the coolant is moderated with graphite.

Because no MSRs have operated after the early 1970s, none of the technical solutions currently proposed to solve the outstanding issues have actually been tested. Still, new MSR projects are suddenly popping up for two main reasons: the Fukushima events and re-emerging military needs. …….

Nuclear Power in the New Weapons Race. MSRs have also gotten renewed interest following significant evolutions in military affairs. Indeed, since 2010, the U.S. military has started to deploy effective defense systems against ballistic missiles. In turn, it encourages rival powers to develop alternatives for their deterrence such as extreme-range hypersonic vehicles and low-altitude supersonic missiles.

During a speech to the nation on March 1, 2018, President Vladimir Putin revealed to the world the Russian ambition of extreme endurance. “We’ve started the development of new types of strategic weapons that do not use ballistic flight paths on the way to the target,” he said. “One of them is creation of a small-size highly powerful nuclear power plant that can be planted inside the hull of a cruise missile identical to our air-launched X-101 or the United States’ Tomahawk, but at the same time is capable of guaranteeing a flight range that is dozens of times greater, which is practically unlimited,” Putin added.

Beyond postures and statements, however, it seems there is still some work to be done. It has been reported that all flight tests of this new cruise missile resulted in short-term crashes.

Also, since the emergence of China as a military power, the probability of a high-intensity conflict in the Asia-Pacific region is growing. In such a case, the control over the vastness of the Pacific Ocean will be the aim of each party. Extreme ranges and endurance would be a key advantage for a potential winner.

If a nation wants an unlimited power supply for cutting-edge military technologies, then the MSR is indeed a very good candidate. As previously explained, the high temperature generated by an MSR makes it well-suited for airborne operations, while much more compact than a PWR for other applications. The advent of unmanned vehicles also makes the use of MSR technology easier, because radiation shielding requirements become far less stringent with no crew.

To counter the threat of new hypersonic vehicles currently under development, armies are again launching research for directed-energy weapons, such as high-energy lasers, which require huge power supplies to run efficiently. Finally, small modular reactors fitted with MSR technology could effectively supply electricity at remote military bases.

Although these military applications may sound like science fiction, one past example demonstrates the definitive military advantage procured by a high-temperature reactor over a PWR: the development of Alfa class submarines (Figure 4) in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. The Alfa-class submarine is still today considered the fastest, deepest, and most-agile nuclear submarine ever built. Its deployment resulted in the urgent design and manufacture of faster NATO torpedoes, like the U.S. Mark 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) or British Spearfish, to counter something that was virtually invulnerable when first put in service.

What made the Alfa possible? A lead-bismuth-cooled fast reactor, which shares the same main feature of the MSR: high temperature delivery, resulting in a high-power-density design, enabling a small, light, and powerful reactor for the submarine. However, as at ambient temperature the high-density lead-bismuth would freeze, the quayside maintenance operations aimed at preventing any irremediable core damage due to coolant freezing were very complicated and costly. While lead-bismuth and molten-salt reactors share many common points, MSRs are less costly and more easily maintainable.

Developing Viable MSR Designs

In France, the energy sector has not shown interest in MSR technology, as its current PWR fleet delivers competitive energy while achieving a very high level of safety. Furthermore, new PWR designs (EPRs) are intrinsically much safer than the Fukushima GE Mark I, which was designed in the 1960s.

MSRs are not just a different design, however; they are a different sector. MSR developers must essentially start from scratch with dedicated codes and regulations, dedicated licensing processes, dedicated fuel production facilities, dedicated reactors with dedicated highly trained operators, and dedicated waste reprocessing plants. Nonetheless, the decision to pursue MSRs may not be based on market laws. For MSRs to succeed, they will likely be developed with appropriate political support and military funding.

When a technology has some potential, the military sector can provide appropriate funding to quickly prototype products, which won’t necessarily have commercially viable features but will provide the groundwork for further refinement. Then, step by step, the remaining short-comings will be overcome to make a practical product for commercial operation. ■

Jean-Baptiste Peu-Duvallon is a French nuclear energy professional with nearly 15 years of experience on several major construction projects. correct  https://www.powermag.com/molten-salt-reactors-military-applications-behind-the-energy-promises/?pagenum=1

December 4, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, weapons and war | 1 Comment

France abandons plans for the Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration)

Reuters 29th Nov 2018 , The French government has informed Japan that it plans to freeze a next
generation fast-breeder nuclear reactor project, the Nikkei business daily
reported on Thursday. Japan, which has been cooperating with Paris on the
fast-breeder development in France, has invested about 20 billion yen
($176.27 million) in the project, the report added. The French government
will halt research into the Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor
for Industrial Demonstration) project in 2019, with no plans to allocate a
budget from 2020 onwards, the report said, without citing sources.
https://www.reuters.com/article/france-nuclearpower-astrid/update-1-france-to-freeze-fast-breeder-nuclear-reactor-project-nikkei-idUSL4N1Y41OU?rpc=401&

December 1, 2018 Posted by | France, Japan, technology | Leave a comment

Robots in effort to clean highly radioactive Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant

Sellafield: Europe’s most radioactively contaminated site

Inside Sellafield’s death zone with the nuclear clean-up robots, 27 November 2018

The Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, Cumbria, has recycled its final batch of reactor fuel. But it leaves behind a hugely toxic legacy for future generations to deal with. So how will it be made safe?

Thorp still looks almost new; a giant structure of cavernous halls, deep blue-tinged cooling ponds and giant lifting cranes, imposing in fresh yellow paint.

But now the complex process of decontaminating and dismantling begins.

It is a dangerous job that will take decades to complete and require a great deal of engineering ingenuity and state-of-the-art technology – some of which hasn’t even been invented yet.

This is why.

Five sieverts of radiation is considered a lethal dose for humans. Inside the Head End Shear Cave, where nuclear fuel rods were extracted from their casings and cut into pieces before being dissolved in heated nitric acid, the radiation level is 280 sieverts per hour.

We can only peer through leaded glass more than a metre thick at the inside of the steel-lined cell, which gleams under eerie, yellow-tinged lighting.

This is a place only robots can go.

They will begin the first stage of decommissioning – the post-operative clean-out – removing machinery and debris……….. Cleaning up other parts of the plant will also need robots and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Some will need to be developed from scratch, while others can be adapted from systems already used in other industries, such as oil and gas, car manufacturing and even the space sector……..

The site in Cumbria contains a number of other redundant facilities, some dating back to the 1950s and many of them heavily contaminated, which are currently being decommissioned………

Remote submarines have explored and begun cleaning up old storage ponds. Other remote machines are being used to take cameras deep inside decaying bunkers, filled with radioactive debris.

The job of developing machines like these is shared with a large network of specialist companies, many of them based in Cumbria itself. They form part of a growing decommissioning industry within the UK, as the country grapples with the legacy of its first era of nuclear power.

The NDA believes that these companies can use what they learn at Sellafield, and other plants, to attract further business from overseas……..https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46301596

November 29, 2018 Posted by | reprocessing, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK’s THORP nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield was a dud – never met its operational targets

International Panel on Fissile Materials 18th Nov 2018 Martin Forwood: The UK government announced on 14 November 2018 that the  THORP reprocessing plant at Sellafield has started its planned shutdown. A
Sellafield Stakeholder committee was told that by 11 November 2018, THORP would have chopped up (sheared) its last batch of spent fuel, bringing to an end almost a quarter century of operation.

Based on the officially published ‘annual throughput’ figures (tons reprocessed per year) collated
by the environmental group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) since the plant opened in 1994, THORP has failed to meet its operational targets and schedules by a large margin. Just 5,045 tons were
reprocessed in the first 10 years of operation–the 7,000 tons only being completed on 4 December 4 2012–over nine years late. Not once during the Baseload period (1994-2003) was the nominal throughput rate of 1,000 tons
per year achieved. http://fissilematerials.org/blog/2018/11/sellafields_thorp_reproce.html

November 19, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, reprocessing, UK | Leave a comment

Closure of UK’s Sellafield Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant – a commercial failure

15th Nov 2018 On the morning after the Financial Times has called on the UK Government to reassess its long-term energy plans following the demise of Toshiba’sMoorside nuclear project, the Stop Hinkley Campaign has published a  briefing about lessons we can learn from the Sellafield Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant which is in the process of closing after only 24 years of operation and a very chequered performance.

The “Lessons for Hinkley from Sellafield” briefing says: The cost of building THORP increased from
£300m in 1977 to £1.8bn on completion in 1992. With the additional cost of associated facilities this figure rose to £2.8bn. Originally expected to reprocess 7,000 tonnes of spent fuel in its first ten years, it has managed only around 9,300 in 24 years.

The original rationale for THORP ended with the closure of the UK’s fast reactor programme in 1994. The new rationale – to produce plutonium fuel for ordinary reactors – was a disaster costing the taxpayer £2.2bn.

Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “The rationale for building the THORP plant at Sellafield had disappeared before it even opened. The lesson for 2018 is that we should scrap Hinkley C now before costs escalate. The cancellation costs are small relative to the £50billion extra we’ll have to pay for Hinkley’s electricity, if it ever generates any. If we wait any longer to scrap it,
we risk heading for another Sellafield-scale financial disaster.”  http://www.stophinkley.org/PressReleases/pr181115.pdf

November 19, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, reprocessing, UK | Leave a comment

Media reports of nuclear fusion are a good example of fake news.

Derek Abbott shared a linkNuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, November 15 

Media reports of nuclear fusion are a good example of fake news. They never say that it involves irreversibly transmuting lithium and that we would rapidly reach economic limits of lithium supply in 100 years…so it is a ridiculous “solution”. Also they never say that the neutron emission is even higher than in nuclear fission, and so the fusion reactor itself would need to be decommissioned and buried as it is irradiated with neutrons. The catch is that fusion reactors use massive amounts of precious niobium that would all become buried and non-recyclable. We need niobium for many industries from surgical tools through to aircraft engines.https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

November 17, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Commercial nuclear reprocessing ends at Sellafield site 

BBC 14 November 2018   Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from around the world has ended at Sellafield.

The last batch of waste has gone through its Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp), which opened in 1994.

It has generated an estimated £9bn by extracting new nuclear fuel from 9,000 tonnes of used rods from 30 customers in countries as far afield as Japan.

Thorp will operate until the 2070s as a storehouse for spent fuel as the site around it in Cumbria is cleaned up.

Sellafield Ltd said there would be no redundancies as a result of the closure, with all employees in roles no longer required offered alternative jobs in the business.

The decision to wind it down was taken in 2012, as a result of the majority of its customers opting to store rather than reprocess their fuel…….https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-46206495

November 17, 2018 Posted by | reprocessing, UK | Leave a comment

USA’s Office of Nuclear Energy – subsidies to “new nuclear: hopefuls now total $25 million

U.S. Advanced Nuclear Technology Projects to Receive $18 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, NOVEMBER 13, 2018 ,DOE AWARDS $18 MILLION FOR U.S. ADVANCED NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY PROJECTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced funding selections for eleven domestic advanced nuclear technology projects. These projects, located across six states, will receive varying amounts for a total of approximately $18 million in funding, with project values totaling approximately $25 million. The projects are cost-shared and will allow industry-led teams, including participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability…….https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/us-advanced-nuclear-technology-projects-receive-18-million-us-department-energy

November 15, 2018 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Russia boasting of a spaceship to Mars ‘in very near future’

Russia reveals nuclear spaceship that will fly to Mars ‘in very near future’,  Fox News, By Sean Keach, Digital Technology and Science Editor, 13 Nov 18  Russia has revealed a “spacecraft of the future” that could one day put humans on Mars.

Roscosmos showed off concept designs for the sci-fi spacecraft – but failed to say exactly when it would launch.

The spaceship is currently in development at Russia’s Keldysh Research Centre, which is racing to create the nuclear propulsion engine……..

According to Russia’s TASS news agency,  Vladimir Koshlakov, head of  the Keldysh Centre, believes that a flight to Mars using a nuclear propulsion engine is “technically feasible in the near future”. …. https://www.foxnews.com/science/russia-reveals-nuclear-spaceship-that-will-fly-to-mars-in-very-near-future

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Russia, technology | 4 Comments

Small Modular Reactors not commercially viable, but nuclear companies want the government handouts

there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.
NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. 

Are Thousands of New Nuclear Generators in Canada’s Future? https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/11/07/Nuclear-Generators-Canada-Future/Ottawa is pushing a new smaller, modular nuclear plant that could only pay off if mass produced. By M.V. RamanaToday | TheTyee.ca, 7 Nov 18  M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC, and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, Penguin Books, New Delhi (2012)

Canada’s government is about to embrace a new generation of small nuclear reactors that do not make economic sense.

Amidst real fears that climate change will wreak devastating effects if we don’t shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that Canada should get deeper into nuclear energy might seem freshly attractive to former skeptics.

For a number of reasons, however, skepticism is still very much warranted.

On Nov. 7, Natural Resources Canada will officially launch something called the Small Modular Reactor Roadmap. The roadmap was previewed in February of this year and is the next step in the process set off by the June 2017 “call for a discussion around Small Modular Reactors in Canada” issued by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is interested in figuring out the role the organization “can play in bringing this technology to market.”

Environmental groups and some politicians have spoken out against this process. A petition signed by nearly two dozen civil society groups has opposed the “development and deployment of SMRs when renewable, safer and less financially, socially and environmentally costly alternatives exist.”

SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison with currently common nuclear power reactors. The last set of reactors commissioned in Canada is the four at Darlington. These started operating between 1990 and 1993 and can generate 878 megawatts of electricity (although, on average, they only generate around 75 to 85 per cent of that). In comparison, SMRs are defined as reactors that generate 300 MW or less — as low as 5 MW even. For further comparison, the Site C dam being built in northeastern B.C. is expected to provide 1,100 MW and BC Hydro’s full production capacity is about 11,000 MW.

Various nuclear institutions, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Canadian Nuclear Association and the CANDU Owners Group are strongly supportive of SMRs. Last October, Mark Lesinski, president and CEO of CNL announced: “Small modular reactors, or SMRs, represent a key area of interest to CNL. As part of our long-term strategy, announced earlier this year, CNL established the ambitious goal of siting a new SMR on a CNL site by 2026.”

Likewise, the CANDU Owners Group announced that it was going to use “their existing nuclear expertise to lead the next wave of nuclear generation — small modular reactors, that offer the potential for new uses of nuclear energy while at the same time offering the benefits of existing nuclear in combating climate change while providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

A fix for climate change, says Ottawa

Such claims about the benefits of SMRs seems to have influenced the government too. Although NRCan claims to be just “engaging partners and stakeholders, as well as Indigenous representatives, to understand priorities and challenges related to the development and deployment of SMRs in Canada,” its personnel seem to have already decided that SMRs should be developed in Canada.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the potential of SMRs to help us deliver on a number of priorities, including innovation and climate change,” declared Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd. Diane Cameron, director of the Nuclear Energy Division at Natural Resources Canada, is confident: “I think we will see the deployment of SMRs in Canada for sure.” Such talk is premature, and unwise.

Canada is a late entrant to this game of talking up SMRs. For the most part it has only been talk, with nothing much to show for all that talk. Except, of course, for millions of dollars in government funding that has flown to private corporations. This has been especially on display in the United States, where the primary agency that has been pumping money into SMRs is the Department of Energy.

In 2001, based on an overview of around 10 SMR designs, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade, provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed.” Nothing of that sort happened by the end of that decade, i.e., 2010. But in 2012 the U.S. government offered money: up to $452 million to cover “the engineering, design, certification and licensing costs for up to two U.S. SMR designs.” The two SMR designs that were selected by the DOE for funding were called mPower and NuScale.

The first pick was mPower and, a few months later, the DOE projected that a major electricity generation utility called the Tennessee Valley Authority “plans to deploy two 180 megawatt small modular reactor units for commercial operation in Roane County, Tennessee, by 2021, with as many as six mPower units at that site.”

The company developing mPower was described by the New York Times as being in the lead in the race to develop SMRs, in part because it had “the Energy Department and the T.V.A. in its camp.”

But by 2017, the project was essentially dead.

Few if any buyers

Why this collapse? 

In a nutshell, because there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Co., which worked on two SMR designs and tried to get funding from the DOE. When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and shifted its focus to decommissioning reactors that are being shut down at an increasing rate, which is seen as a growing business opportunity. Explaining this decision in 2014, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, said: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment — it’s that there’s no customers…. The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market.”

Many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Examples are the cases of JordanGhana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one because there are significant problems with deploying these.

A key problem is poor economics. Nuclear power is already known to be very expensive. But SMRs start with a disadvantage: they are too small. One of the few ways that nuclear power plant operators could reduce the cost of nuclear electricity was to utilize what are called economies of scale, i.e., taking advantage of the fact that many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. This is lost in SMRs. Most of the early small reactors built in the U.S. shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically.

Reactors by the thousands?

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale  in two ways: by savings through mass manufacture in factories, and by moving from a steep learning curve early on to gaining rich knowledge about how to achieve efficiencies as more and more reactors are designed and built. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low. Indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with construction experience.

In the case of Canada, the potential markets that are most often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs are small and remote communities and mines that are not connected to the electric grid. That is not a viable business proposition. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to drive the manufacture of the thousands of SMRs needed to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power.

There are thus good reasons to expect that small modular reactors, like large nuclear power plants, are just not commercially viable. They will also impose the other well-known problems associated with nuclear energy — the risk of severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the linkage with nuclear weapons — on society. Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, unfortunately, NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. [Tyee]

November 8, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The nuclear lobby claims wrongly that tritium is harmless

APAG2 2nd Aug 2018 *Fusion** The nuclear lobby claims wrongly that tritium is harmless to discharge into
the environment, and that nuclear fusion, in which tritium is used as fuel,
is safe. With this consummate manipulation, the French nucleocrats are
passing ITER the nuclear fusion reactor currently under construction at
Cadarache [Bouches-du-Rhone] a carte blanche. But it is not safe.
https://apag2.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/iter-tritium-danger-%e2%80%a8larnaque-mortifere-du-lobby-du-nucleaire/

November 5, 2018 Posted by | France, technology | Leave a comment

Not much of a future for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs), despite the hype

New Renew Extra 1st Nov 2018 Dave Elliott: Small Modular Reactors are being promoted as the next big things in energy- being allegedly cheaper than conventional large plants since they can be mass-produced.

None yet exist, apart from the small units used for nuclear submarines, but the proponents envisage all manner of new variants emerging in the years ahead, with some prototypes already being planned in the US, and Canada, and China also pushing ahead in this area.

Some are conventional Pressurised Water Reactors simply scaled down, others, less developed so far, are planning to test out other routes, including molten salt flouride reactors using thorium, possibly operating in fast breeder mode. In theory some could also be run in Combined Heat and Power mode, with the heat delivered to nearby urban areas- if anyone will allow SMRs to be built near or in cities. That would improve their economics.

SMR enthusiasts have be trying to promote their new as yet untested technologies, but not that many seem to want to pay for them. Some look to the military link to rescue SMRs- they have the same technical and expertise base as is used for the nuclear propulsion units of the UK’s nuclear submarines. But so far that doesn’t seem to paid off.

Certainly there have been complaints from SMR enthusiasts about the low level of government support in the UK: Meanwhile, in the USA, one key project has gone bust, having apparently overreached itself:
failing-to-deliver-reactor-that-ran-on-spent-fuel. It doesn’t sound like a booming area of development.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

“Burning plasma” – a problem to overcome before nuclear fusion could ever work

Nuclear fusion: wrestling with burning questions on the control of ‘burning plasmas’ EurekAlert, 24 Oct 18, 

Lehigh professor Eugenio Schuster has recently been named ITER Scientist Fellow in the area of Plasma Control; the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), promises to be the first nuclear-fusion reactor to produce net energy

LEHIGH UNIVERSITY WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO MEET THE WORLD’S ENERGY NEEDS, SUSTAINABLY, FAR INTO THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE? PERHAPS CREATING ENERGY THE WAY THE SUN DOES, THROUGH NUCLEAR FUSION.

Fission and fusion are very different nuclear reactions, according to Eugenio Schuster, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Lehigh University. Fission, which produces the type of nuclear energy created by reactors here on Earth since the 1950s, involves splitting the nuclei of very heavy elements, such as uranium and plutonium, which starts a chain reaction that is difficult to slow–among the reasons it can be dangerous.

Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, is a very difficult reaction to spur and maintain. The sun creates energy–in the form of light and heat–by fusing atoms of hydrogen, the lightest gas, using its massive gravitational force to confine the hydrogenic gas long enough for the nuclear reaction to take place.

On Earth, many scientists believe the most promising path to creating energy through nuclear fusion is one that uses heat to spur a similar reaction. This method combines two isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium, by heating them up to 100 million Kelvin–approximately six times hotter than the sun’s core. The kinetic energy of these isotopes is increased by heating, which allows them to overcome the repulsion force due to the positive charges (protons) in the nuclei and to fuse. Scientists use magnetic fields to confine the resulting substance, which is no longer a gas, but a plasma. The “burning plasma,” as it is known, is confined in a toroidal-shaped apparatus: the tokamak, which is a Russian-language acronym that translates to “toroidal chamber with magnetic coils.”

Schuster, a nuclear-fusion plasma control expert, works on ways to control and stabilize the heated plasma………https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/lu-nfw102418.php

October 25, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | 1 Comment

USA’s failed Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Plant costs taxpayers over $1 million daily

October 22, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, technology, USA | 2 Comments